ORONO, Maine — Junior second baseman Troy Black entered the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against UMBC hitting .457 with runners in scoring position.
Now he’s at .500.
Black’s one-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning scored freshman shortstop Shane Bussey from second to give senior right-hander A.J. Bazdanes and the Black Bears a 1-0 win over the Retrievers in the first game of an America East doubleheader at Mahaney Diamond.
Maine won the nightcap 18-9.
Black had two hits with runners in scoring position in the opener and two more in the second game, including a three-run triple in a 13-run sixth-inning uprising that was one run shy of the school record set in 1965 against Maryland State.
Regular-season champion Maine (34-19, 20-8 AE) has beaten the Retrievers (17-30, 8-21 AE) 21 consecutive times.
The teams play a single game Saturday at 1 p.m.
Bussey, playing in place of the injured Michael Fransoso (eye injury), collected his second single of the game to lead off the seventh inning in the opener, a line drive to right.
Sam Balzano sacrificed him to second and Black grounded a 2-2 pitch from hard-luck loser Stephan Chrzanowski through the box into center field to deliver Bussey.
“It was a fastball down and away. He did a good piece of hitting,” said Chrzanowski, who has been used mostly as a reliever this season.
“I had two strikes and I was just trying to put the ball in play,” said the lefthanded-hitting Black. “It was low and outside but I was able to extend my hands.”
Bazdanes pitched a two-hit masterpiece, striking out seven and not walking anyone. He threw 75 pitches of which 50 were strikes.
He got ahead with first-pitch strikes on 17 of the 23 hitters he faced.
Chrzanowski, who was making just his second start and his first since March 13, allowed seven hits with two walks and no strikeouts in his impressive complete-game effort. He threw 56 strikes among his 99 pitches.
Maine had baserunners in every inning but Chrzanowski pitched out of numerous jams, holding Maine to a 1-for-8 performance with men in scoring position until Black’s game-winner.
Black had the previous hit with runners in scoring position in the fifth but UMBC left fielder Jake Barnes threw a one-hop strike to the plate to gun down Bussey, who was trying to score from second.
Maine loaded the bases in the sixth but freshman shortstop Kevin LaChance made a great diving catch to his right to rob Mike Connolly and end the threat.
“All four of my pitches were working today and I was able to throw them for strikes,” said Bazdanes, referring to his fastball, curve, cutter and changeup. “And the guys played great defense behind me.”
He said his first-pitch strikes represent the philosophy of the Maine pitching staff.
“We want to get ahead in the count and we want to stay away from walks,” said Bazdanes.
“(Bazdanes) threw a great game. He threw all of his pitches for strikes,” said UMBC coach Bob Mumma, who was pleased with the performance turned in by Chrzanowski.
Black went 3-for-3 and stole two bases.
“He always gets big hits for us,” said Maine coach Steve Trimper.
Bussey had two singles.
LaChance’s one-out double in the seventh and Anthony Gatto’s one-out single in the second were the only hits off Bazdanes.
In the nightcap, the Black Bears spotted the Retrievers a 2-0 lead before erasing it with a run in the third and three in the fourth and then breaking it open in the sixth.
Balzano lined an opposite-field double to left to trigger the rally, which included two hits apiece from Black, Brian Doran and Kyle Silva.
Alex Calbick grounded a two-run single, Doran hit a run-scoring ground-rule double, Mike Connolly singled in a run and Black lashed lefty Gabe Togna’s curve for his bases-clearing triple to left-center.
Doran then doubled home a run, Scott Heath plated another with a groundout and Silva added an RBI single.
Black paced the attack with three hits and four RBIs to cap a 6-for-8 doubleheader.
He is now 25-for-50 with men in scoring position.
“He is the guy we want up there at the plate in a (key) situation,’’ said Doran. “He is our most clutch hitter.”
Black said he just “locks in” in clutch situation and focuses on hitting the ball where it’s pitched.
“If you put the ball in play, good things happen. I try to get the barrel of the bat on it,” said Black.
Maine unleashed a 20-hit attack in the nightcap at the expense of an inexperienced UMBC pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries.
“We got good pitches to hit and we stayed back on them,” said Doran.
Black said the team can struggle at the plate from time to time “but then we’ll erupt.”
Doran, Heath and Silva also had three hits apiece in the nightcap. Doran and Heat had two RBIs each and Silva had one.
Balzano, White, Calbick and Connolly had two hits each.
Anthony Gatto had three hits and Barnes and D.J. Smith had two apiece for the youthful but vastly improved Retrievers, who started seven freshmen and sophomores.
LaChance and Gatto each had two RBIs.
UMBC used five pitchers.
Maine used six pitchers with starter Shaun Coughlin earning the win with four innings of four-hit, two run (one earned) ball.